Customize Your Family Picnic Table

Give your backyard table a makeover with these quick and easy tips.

By: Amanda Formaro

You spend time in your backyard every year playing with the flying disc, tossing the ball around and enjoying family barbecues. That old picnic table has served you well, but it’s showing its age.

Why not give it a facelift? There are several ways to spruce up your family's picnic table and make it truly your own. Add your own special flair to wow your guests this summer — after all it's become part of the family by now!

Getting it Ready
If your table is older and has been subjected to several years of exposure to natural elements, chances are it needs a little work before you can begin personalizing. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Inspect the table for any loose boards, protruding nails or screws and other mishaps that may need attention.
  • If the boards are warped, a planning tool can help smooth and shape the wood back to its former glory. You may need to disassemble the table if the boards are in particularly rough shape.
  • You'll want to sand the wood to eliminate any rough patches or splinters, which will create a smooth surface for you to paint.
  • Be sure to prime the surface before painting. A good primer made for outdoor use can be found in the paint department at hardware and home improvement stores.
  • When selecting paint, consider an outdoor oil-based paint that will stand up to the seasons.

Paint Ideas — Keeping It Simple
Consider your outdoor space and any colour elements you already have in place. Do you want to make a colour-pop statement with a bright yellow table, or keep it subtle with white or tan? These ideas will keep it on the simple side:

  • Choose a colour to match your decor, or one that will add a splash to your landscape. Teal, sunny yellow and red are all great choices that pop!
  • Paint the top of the table and the benches a contrasting colour from the legs. For example, a sage green tabletop with matching bench seats, paired with creamy vanilla legs makes a beautiful combination.
  • Paint the legs white and choose a rich, deep brown stain for the tabletop and benches.
  • Add a little flair to the table using painter's tape to mask off areas you don’t want painted, and create a chevron pattern or bold stripes. Alternatively, simply paint each board with alternating colors to create easy stripes without any need for masking.
  • Chalkboard paint is another great option that creates hours of fun for adults and kids alike. Paint the entire tabletop, or simply create mini-chalkboards using painter's tape to mask off each section.

Some Added Flair
Does a solid colour make you twitch because of your desire to add that "little something"? Here are some ideas for adding some glam to your table.

  • Numbers and letters are quite popular. Add to benches or the tabletop for a great look.
  • Stencils come in hundreds of different designs and are readily available online or in craft stores. Choose a favourite to add to the corners or the center of the table.
  • The rustic look is easily achieved using a palm sander. Once your paint has dried completely, work the sander around corners and along the edges, removing some of the paint, giving the table that antique look.

No matter how you decide to customize your family picnic table, you’ll be glad you did. Enjoy the fruits of your labour, and the compliments from guests, for years to come!

Amanda Formaro has been writing, crafting and cooking on the Internet for over 15 years. She’s been published is several print magazines and on many websites. You can find her at


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